Meta tags used to play a primary role in SEO and was a major factor in how search engines placed sites in their results. If done carefully and precisely, the time spent on perfecting meta tags would pay off in placement. Is this still the case in 2016? To simplify, the answer is no, not so much. It seems the primary factors in placement today have to do with reputation of high-quality content, relevance, user experience, and popularity.
Does this mean meta tags should be discounted completely now? Again, the answer is no. Your meta title and meta description tags are still used by the major search engines to display your site in their results. Which tags matter in today’s SEO world?
- Title – In the past years, the <title> element, though technically not a meta tag, defined the heading that your page was listed in search results. Even though Bing and Google will sometimes generate their own to ensure results are relevant to specific search queries, it’s highly recommended that you still include a unique title.
- Keywords – Google and Bing have both confirmed that they no longer use the meta keywords tag in their algorithms. In spite of this, you’ll still find these fields in many Content Management Systems, though they will likely gradually be removed over the coming years.
- Description – Though modern search engines now use it mainly for display purposes, the meta description tag is still important. Google will sometimes generate its own description, ignoring your mete description tag entirely if it doesn’t feel it relates directly to the search query. This might include a mixture of content from your website as well as external sources. It’s still recommend that you provide a well-crafted meta description as it may still be used in search results.
So with all that said, it’s now time to shift some focus to user experience by generating engaging content that presents well across all possible devices. Continue writing unique meta title and meta description tags as they could still be used to display your site in search engine results but don’t be alarmed if they are ignored. Don’t waste any energy on the meta keywords tags.